Monday, September 02, 2013

Make Me a Mixtape: 5 songs for working people

Labor Day is more than an opportunity to mark the end of summer; it is an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of working people and the American labor movement. Organized labor has a lot to teach the broader community about leadership and social change.  Listen to some tunes below and think about how solidarity can show up in your life more often and remember the lesson of the working people: each person has a responsibility to look out for the interest of all.  


Let's start things off with a voice-over of my favorite Woody Guthrie musings:

"I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody.No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim. Too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I'm out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.

I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own songs and to sing the kind that knock you down farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you've not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I'd starve to death before I'd sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow." -Woody Guthrie 


1. Which Side Are You On? // Pete Seeger
"Don't scab for the bosses/Don't listen to their lies/Us poor folks haven't got a chance/Unless we organize."

2. Solidarity Forever // Pete Seeger
"When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run/There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun/Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one/But the union makes us strong."

3. Bread and Roses // Julie Collins
"As we go marching, marching/We battle too for men/For they are women’s children/And we mother them again/Our lives shall not be sweetened/From birth until life closes/Hearts starve as well as bodies/Give us bread, but give us roses"

4. Ballad of Joe Hill // Joan Baez
"From San Diego up to Maine/In every mine and mill/Where working men defend their rights/it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill."

5. Three Miles Down // Gil-Scott Heren
"Hard to imagine workin' in the mines/Coal dust in your lungs, on your skin and on your mind/I've listened to the speeches/but it occurs to me politicians just don't understand/the thoughts of isolation, ain't no sunshine underground/It's like workin' in a graveyard three miles down."

INTERACT: What would you suggest for the B Side?

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